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A Chip Off the Old Sock?

Today's gym classes focus on fitness, not competition

Gone are the days of being picked last for a team, or getting a bad grade in gym simply for having little athletic prowess -- at least in Naperville, Ill., schools, anyway. According to this CNN article, gym classes in this school system teach children about fitness rather than competition.

The Naperville junior high has designed the "new P.E." classes to get all the kids involved, not just the 30 percent or so who might go on to play competitive sports in high school. The gym looks like a health club and offers students a variety of exercise equipment. When team sports are played, the teacher, not students, chooses the teams.

Grades are based on kids reaching their target heart rates while exercising. So, depending on fitness levels, a child who can only walk on the treadmill could get the same grade as someone running, as long as he or she is performing at the optimum heart rate.

Such changes can't come fast enough for parents who feel that schools are shortchanging their kids when it comes to physical education, adding to the growing problem of childhood obesity, says this HealthDay article.

Another way to get kids moving is to send them outside. This article from New Jersey's Bergen Record says that kids might be more willing to exercise if they can get some fresh air and be involved in non-competitive activities like climbing or in-line skating.

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